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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Fulfilling UWSA national state aspirations

As United Wa State Army (UWSA) commander Bao Youxiang plead and urged the leaders of 12 ethnic armed groups attending a conference at the Wa headquarters in Panghsang to support the aspiration of state-level administration, within the mould of the union, making the Wa controlled area another national state, confusion on how to handle this delicate question is pushed to the forefront.
Mizzima report of 1 May, according to U Zaw Htay, director of Presidential Office, as Wa region is not listed as a national state, it depends on the amendment of the constitution.
He said: “According to the present constitution, there is no Wa state. So it’ll be as it is according to the constitution. The government cannot just give national state status as it wishes.”
Sai Nyunt Lwin, secretary of the SNLD was careful and said: “This issue need to be thought about seriously and don’t want to give opinion.”
According to the 2008 military-drafted constitution, there are six self-administrative areas. They are:
(a) grouping Leshi, Lahe and Namyun townships in Sagaing Division as Naga Self-Administered Zone;
(b) grouping Ywangan and Pindaya townships in Shan State as Danu Self-Administered Zone;
(c) grouping HoPong, HsiHseng and Pinlaung townships in Shan State as Pa-O Self-Administered Zone;
(d) grouping Namhsan and Manton townships in Shan State as Pa Laung Self-Administered Zone;
(e) grouping Konkyan and Laukkai townships in Shan State as Kokang Self-Administered Zone; and
(f) grouping six townships – Hopang, Mongma, Panwai, Nahpan, Metman and Pangsang (Pankham) townships in Shan State as two districts which are forged into ‘Wa’ Self-Administered Division.
As all can see, five out of six self-administrative areas are cut out of Shan State and naturally, many Shan patriots and politicians see this as the regime’s ploy to under cut “ Shan nationalism” and subdue political influence of the Shan as a whole. But it is also worth taking note that the 1922 Federated Shan States administration formed during the British colonial period, with 33 sub-states, had worked administratively quite well, especially where satisfying the ethnic identities and cultural aspects were concerned. And the fact that the Wa now wants a separate national state status is hardly to be blamed, given that the Shans are in no position to lead the armed struggle covering the whole length and breadth of the Shan State. Besides, the global trend of ethnic upsurge is also an important point to take into account why so many ethnic groups rise up to voice their concerns and made their aspirations known.
The UWSA ally, National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) or Mong La, headed by Sai Luen, has also lately asked for a Akha self-administartive zone in its area of control. No doubt, like NDAA , many other ethnic groups might be having the same opinion.
As such, rewriting a new constitution to suit the rising tide of ethnic upsurge and aspirations would be the only viable solution. For example, new state-level or national state, and sub-state-level or self-administrative area, creation according to the prescribed criteria would do the job. But, of course, the to be drawn criteria would have to be agreed upon among stakeholders, beforehand.
Without enforceable nationwide ceasefire and radical amendments of the constitution or rewriting it first, national state and sub-state unit aspirations cannot be adequately addressed. But one thing is sure, and that is, the present military-drafted constitution won’t be able to address all these ethnic political aspirations.
As ethnic upsurge is an unstoppable, global trend, all stakeholders should start pondering on how this formidable challenge could be adequately addressed and accommodated, if peaceful co-existence and harmony are to be restored.

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